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What is the entry and judging process?

There are four stages in the competition: an executive summary, a video pitch, a full business plan and the final, where ideas are pitched to a panel of judges. Entry ideas must be for businesses with a social or environmental focus. Submissions may include profit or non-profit business plans. The competition is designed for initiatives in the concept or pilot phase only. Ideas will be evaluated for their potential to form the basis of a viable venture and make a meaningful contribution to society or the environment.

Entry process

Stage 1: Registration and executive summary submission

To enter the competition, each team will be asked to submit a short summary of their social enterprise idea, outlining their vision for the project and how it will work in practice. You'll have to consider what social need your enterprise meets, what distinguishes it from existing organisations, and how it might sustain itself financially.

The summary of your idea will be formed from the specific questions provided in the application portal .

Please give us a 5 sentence summary 'pitch' of your idea and then answer the following questions in no more than 150 words per answer:

  1. What is your social enterprise idea and what social need is it targeting?
  2. What social benefits do you believe your venture will generate?
  3. How will your venture make money and become sustainable in the long term?
  4. How is your team structured and how do the key strengths and weaknesses of your team help you meet your goals?
  5. If you won McKinsey Venture Academy, what would you anticipate as the key next steps for your venture?

Stage 2: Video pitch submission

After the first round, you'll be invited to a workshop in London with some of the UK and Ireland’s leading social entrepreneurs to help develop your idea. You will then be asked to submit a short video pitch in support of your idea. Previous entrants have used a range of innovative ways to visually convey the finer details behind their idea, so this is where you'll get the chance to be creative. At the end of this round, we'll announce the semi-finalists.

Stage 3: Full business plan submission

This is where things get much more detailed. You'll create a full business plan that explains the nuances of your enterprise and the practicalities of how it will be run. But you won't be on your own: you'll receive coaching and support throughout the process from leading social entrepreneurs.

Stage 4: The Final

At the end of the process, each remaining team will present their ideas to a judging panel of social entrepreneurs - and will be assigned a mentor to help them prepare for this. The winner will be announced at our awards ceremony, and will be given seed funding and on-going support to make their idea a reality.

Specific judging criteria

  • Opportunity and Need
  • Idea / Market Fit
  • Competition
  • Product
  • Social Impact
  • Feasibility
  • People
  • Measurement of Impact
  • Implementation

Team requirements and eligibility

A team may consist of students that are enrolled on a full time programme leading to any degree at an accredited university in the UK or Ireland. Teams can consist of students from different universities. Participation is open to all universities in the UK and Ireland. Visiting students are also eligible, though would need to form a team with students based in the UK or Ireland. We recommend that teams have at least two members. We also suggest that students restrict their participation to a single team although case-by-case exceptions may be given for students participating on two teams.


Business plans and the brief business description that you provide in the pre-registration will be treated as confidential and will only be viewed by judges and the McKinsey Venture Academy organising committee. We may use other materials of finalists (e.g., the video pitch) in promotional activities directly relating the the McKinsey Venture Academy competition.